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The Doha Development Agenda

24 January 2006 at 02:36 | 1201 views

Press Release

In a speech in Berlin today EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson set out the EU’s strategy for concluding an ambitious Doha deal in 2006 and called for a series of intensive bilateral contacts to help move negotiations forward. Speaking to an audience of German business and political leaders, Mandelson said the state of the negotiation was "serious but not desperate". He argued strongly that Europe does "not hold the key to the next step of progress". He said Europe had so far put far more on the table than any other WTO member and that others now had to respond to Europe’s offers if the talks were not to fail. He urged Europe’s trading partners to make offers which will permit a balanced outcome that delivers growth for the world economy. Mandelson called for a series of "intense, concentrated, bilateral contacts" to establish the levels of confidence necessary to build a final agreement based on comparable levels of ambition. He concluded: "There is no alternative to negotiation. I am sure Europe is willing to move faster and go further where that is appropriate - but not in a race with ourselves."

No real cuts for paper cuts.

Commissioner Mandelson said that the EU remained "completely committed to going as far as it could in all areas of the Doha negotiations...provided there is comparable effort elsewhere". He argued that there must be matching effort in agriculture and industrial goods as the Hong Kong declaration demands. Commissioner Mandelson said that Europe could very reluctantly live with a modest Doha outcome but believed that such an outcome would not be the best result for development or for the world economy. A better way forward would be for all WTO members to come forward with proposals to reduce protectionism according to their real level of development. Commissioner Mandelson said: "The blockage in the (Doha) Round is not in Brussels... That is why I am compelled to say again to our WTO negotiating partners: Europe cannot envisage a Doha Round that would be concluded on the basis of real cuts by Europe and paper cuts by others. Ambition for Europe. Inhibition for everyone else. This is a political non-starter, as well as a bad economic recipe for world trade growth. We must work for a result that means something for traders on the ground. If not - and I must make this clear - any developed or emerging economy that thinks it can come to the Doha table empty handed, will, I’m afraid, go home the same way. I cannot sell a deal in which Europe gives but gets nothing in return. That is not a negotiation; that is a capitulation. Europe is ready to give more than others. But it is not willing to get nothing in return."

The Doha Round is a two way process

Commissioner Mandelson argued that Europe’s "first loyalty in trade policy is to the WTO and the success of the Doha Round". He argued that Europe has "shown again and again - without due recognition - that we are prepared to pay to keep the multilateral system on track". He argued that Europe’s current proposals in the Round "have a real political price for EU Member States. Taken together over the present reform cycle, they will have a considerable impact on people’s jobs and people’s lives. European agriculture - cereals, poultry, beef and much besides - will contract and there will be a significant loss of employment" as a result of our WTO offer. He argued that "no other member of the WTO has made offers or concessions that remotely match Europe’s". He reaffirmed that Europe would seek similar commitments to agricultural reform from all other developed countries, including the USA, as part of a final Single Undertaking.

More than farm trade

Commissioner Mandelson rejected the claim that the Doha round is an "agriculture round" or that the success of a development Round depends on further agricultural concessions from Europe. He said that the countries that have grown most in recent years are those that have moved away from agricultural trade to trade in industrial goods and services. He highlighted the benefits to developing countries that would flow from lowering industrial tariffs including between developing countries. He said that the development benefits of services trade in particular have been misrepresented by some NGOs and protectionism in the developing world was wrongly encouraged as a means of development.

Differentiating developing countries

Commissioner Mandelson argued that negotiations had to move beyond the assumption of a single set of developing country interests in the Doha negotiations. He argued that recognising the greater ability of competitive emerging economies to liberalise trade was now "realistic and necessary". He said: "The G20 and the G90 do not have identical interests and capacities in trade. Some are major economic players and exporters on the world stage: others need all the help we can give them."

Source: EU Trade News

Photo: Peter Mandelson